I'll cop to reading Dear Abby, despite the often off-the-mark advice she doles out. But today's column went beyond off-the-mark and into just-plain-dangerous-and-wrong territory.
Here's the letter in question: "I'm an attractive, single, successful, 27-year-old woman who has struggled with anorexia ever since I was 12. I have learned to live with it and feel no need to advertise it to the world. However, I find that many strangers, including a large number of people I associate with at work, feel a compulsion to comment on my weight (105 pounds and 5 foot 9), the size of the clothes I wear, or what I eat. It's as uncomfortable a subject for me as I imagine it is for people who are overweight, and I have no 'pat' answer for them." --Annoyed at 105
Here's Abby's response:
Dear Annoyed: Clearly, your weight issues are more obvious to those around you than you chose to believe. However, you are under no obligation to answer these intrusive questions if it makes you uncomfortable. When confronted, reply, "That's a very personal question (or subject) and I'd prefer not to discuss it." Then change the subject.
Argh! Please write to her and set her straight about anorexia: It's not a "lifestyle choice" but a lethal mental illness. Ask her why she would sanction this writer's settling for a life distorted by anorexia. Invite her to list resources that might be helpful to "Annoyed" and her family, including maudsleyparents.org, NEDA, eatingwithyouranorexic.com, and others.
This is a teachable moment on a national scale. Go for it!